Chevrolet is adding a four-cylinder turbocharged engine to its all-new 2019 Silverado pickup truck, in hopes of having the most economical full-size pickup truck for those buyers — a clear minority — who favor high mpg. The 2.7-liter inline-four produces an SAE-certified 307 hp and 348 pound-feet of torque.
Chevrolet released a slew of specs and superlatives for the new engine, but not its fuel economy rating (or towing capacity). That will come closer to the ship date in late summer or early fall. If the 2019 Silverado is to to be the most economical pickup, it will have to top the 22 mpg (combined rating) of two variants of the Ford F-150.
Less Weight, More Power Than Chevy’s V6
Full-size pickup trucks run 1-2-3 (Ford-Chevy-RAM) in sales among the 300 car and truck models sold in the US, totaling 2 million of the 17.2 million vehicles sold last year. They’re a drag on each automaker’s CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) ratings. Chevrolet’s bold move to make pickups more economical was to add an inline-four to go along with its V6 and V8 gas and diesel engines.
It weighs 80 pounds less than the 4.3-liter V6 gas engine in some current Silverados; that V6 produces 285 hp, 305 lb-ft of torque, and gets 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway for a two-wheel-drive pickup. The turbo four will accelerate to 60 mph in 7 seconds or less. It was designed for truck applications only and won’t show up in Chevrolet passenger cars. GM said “it is very possible” the turbo-four will eventually replace the V6 in pickups.
The engine uses double overhead camshafts, continuously variable valve time, and Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation), stop/start technology, an electric (not engine-driven) water pump, variable-pressure oiling system, active thermal management to get the engine warmed up quicker, and an integrated exhaust manifold that’s part of the cylinder head assembly, also to warm the engine faster. The 2.7-liter turbo has an unusually long stroke — the distance the piston travels up and down within the cylinder — of 4.01 inches (102mm) to provide a high compression ratio (10.0:1) and improved combustion, GM says.
“It punches above its weight,” says Tom Sutter, chief engineer for the new engine. In addition, Tim Herreck, executive chief engineer of full-size GM pickups, told Automotive News, ” We’re going to claim that we’re the highest fuel efficiency vehicle and what it means for our customer and the value we give back to our customer.” Herrick and GM later walked back the comments, clarifying that the GM pickup lineup will be “very competitive in fuel efficiency,” noting EPA testing is not yet complete.
This is the first full-size pickup truck with a four-cylinder gasoline engine. It will be the standard engine on the 2019 Silverado RST and LT trims. It will also on the similar GMC Sierra pickup. Several midsize pickups, including the Chevrolet Colorado, have four-cylinder powerplants already.
Variable Cylinder Engines for Pickups
The next generation of Chevrolet, along with GMC, pickup engines will all have either Active Fuel Management, which runs on all or half the cylinders, or Dynamic Fuel Management, which can scale back to just one or two cylinders running, working from 17 performance profiles.
Sixty percent of the time, they’ll be running on less than all cylinders. Chevrolet will offer six powertrain configurations in 2019: the four-cylinder gasoline turbo, a Duramax 3.0-liter inline-six turbodiesel (also new), the 4.3-liter V6, and three V8 engines. The V8s will account for 90 percent of sales, with the 5.3-liter V8 alone accounting for 80 percent of sales. The 2019 5.3-liter will have Dynamic Fuel Management (variable cylinder shutdown), variable valve timing, and gasoline direct injection.
Chevrolet sold 585,864 Silverados last year, second only to Ford F-150, and GMC sold another 217,943 Sierra full-size pickups. While Ford went to an aluminum body to cut flab from the current F-Series, Chevrolet remained with a steel body and still managed to lose 400 pounds in the 2019 Silverado.